Right-to-Repair’ Bill Would Authorize Independent Repair Shops to Fix Phones, Tablets
Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee Chair Paul D. Moriarty has introduced legislation to provide more options for consumers who require repairs to their cell phones, laptops, tablets and other devices.
Because companies often own the locations at which consumers may seek repairs to their digital devices and designate their employees or others with whom the company contracts as the only persons authorized to make repairs, consumers have no choice but to patronize a company-approved repair store, Moriarty said.
Companies have refused to sell necessary parts to independent repair shops, banned the publication of information regarding how to repair their products and even created mechanisms for remotely deactivating a device if an outside party attempts to make a repair in order to prevent customers from seeking services elsewhere.
“Companies have gone as far as employing special software to disable someone’s device if he or she attempts to fix the problem independently or goes to a location that offers to do the same work at a lower cost,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Actively prohibiting access to other providers of repair service on the market is the very definition of a monopoly. Consumers deserve the freedom to decide where to have their electronics repaired or to repair products – which they paid for and own – themselves.”
The company policies effectively prohibit local independent repair shops from providing services to people in their communities, he added.
“Mom-and-pop repair shops in New Jersey have been crushed by major multi-billion dollar corporations whose practices make it impossible for Main Street to compete,” said Moriarty. “In addition to having a direct impact on consumers, this has a detrimental effect on an economy that is largely dependent upon the success of small businesses.”
The bill (A-4934), to be known as the “Fair Repair Act,” would require manufacturers to make the diagnostic, service or repair documentation available to authorized repair providers also available to any independent repair provider or owner of an electronic device at no charge. The measure also would allow owners, authorized agents and independent repair providers to purchase equipment or service parts needed to repair the manufacturer’s products.
A violation of the measure would constitute an unlawful practice under the Consumer Fraud Act. An unlawful practice is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 for a first offense and up to $20,000 for any subsequent offense.
At least 11 other states have introduced similar legislation in an effort to restore the right of consumers and business owners to access resources they need in order to repair digital devices.